I loved chess when I was younger, drifted away from it until the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit drew me back in. The Queen’s Gambit is an opening where white tries to entice black to accept what appears to be a free pawn. The purpose of the sacrifice is to open up the centre for white to control. As with all chess openings there are a myriad of variations one of which is known as the Queens Gambit declined where black opts to ignore the ‘pawn’ and carry on with their plans and development of pieces…
This week’s blog was going to be a low key affair. I am taking two weeks much needed annual leave and had partially crafted a post ready to upload. Then the Sewell Report dropped midweek, and my jaw hit the floor. It has led me to focus on that but I must confess to not really having the words or craft to pull together something cpnscise and coherent. So if you are looking for an articulate, reflective piece I’d highly recommend this wonderful article by Kalwant Bhopal instead. I can’t match her skill and the past 24 hours have left me numb, filled with despair and despondency. It’s not really what I had planned for my fortnight break but here we are and I needed to say something. In thinking about what I wanted to write I took a break played a game of chess, and it was there that my thoughts turned to the Queen’s Gambit declined…
I feel that the Sewell report is designed to lock me in a box. I feel that my experiences, and those of the millions of Black and Brown British citizens have been gaslit by our own Government. However, according to the report, to say so means that I am living in a bygone age and am suffering from ‘victimhood’. It is a shallow attempt to simultaneously discredit the notion of systemic racism and damn anyone who disagrees.
My thoughts are that fixating on the report is the equivalent of accepting the Queens’ Gambit. It is a pawn I do not want and a conversation I will not have. Rather than attempting to continue the debate I am instead resolved to continue working to address inequality wherever I find it and simply ignore the document. So what therefore is the purpose and point of today’s blog post?
This is really for the ally readers. I have two simple questions for you. Do you agree with the conclusions of the Sewell Report? If not, what action have you taken to reflect that through your circles and spheres of influence? Have you reached out to any Black or Brown colleagues to see how they are feeling and offer your support? The voices I have heard speaking out have been predominantly Black or Brown. From David Lammy to Pete Olusoga to Shereen Daniels and countless others… It would be nice to see a ‘lighter palette’ of those vocalising disagreement and concern.
I wrote in January about my fear that the Government’s strategy was one of division – to pit the black, brown and white working class against each other. I’ll leave you with this eloquent and accurate summation from Rehana Azam General Secretary of the GMB Union that shares that concern. “Only this Government could produce a report on race in the 21st century that actually gaslights Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic people and communities. This feels like a deeply cynical report that not only ignores black and ethnic minority worker’s worries and concerns. But is part of an election strategy to divide working class people and voters. It’s completely irresponsible and immoral”.
We cannot afford to be tired!!!